Cancel For Free
This is a no-brainer, but it’s something that many travelers don’t think to do. If you missed the cancellation window for your hotel, restaurant, or car booking but can still change the reservation date free of charge, move your reservation back by several weeks or months. Then call back to cancel with a different representative. Sneaky? Sure. But it works, and you’ll never get stuck with a lousy cancellation fee again.
Some reservation services, like OpenTable, allow the representative to see the “history” of the booking, but many pressed-for-time agents won’t bother to check.
Defend Your Legroom
You can purchase controversial Knee Defender, the first of its kind ($19.95), a pocket-sized plastic device that locks onto your tray table and prevents the seat in front of you from reclining. While it is controversial, it is approved by the FAA for personal use.
The second solution? Just ask! I’ve had good luck with politely asking the flyer in front of me if they would refrain from reclining while I ate or used my laptop.
Fix a Broken Suitcase Zipper
It’s happened to everyone: Your suitcase zips just fine when you leave, but upon packing for your return trip, it fails to close. Rather than replace your luggage, consider these quick zipper hacks. If the zipper appears to be stuck, rub Vaseline, lip balm, or bar soap on the teeth to get it moving. Zipper teeth no longer staying closed? Usually a single tooth is bent out of shape. Feel along the length of the zipper until you find the one that sticks out, and then a quick adjustment with pliers will do the trick. And if the zipper handle has snapped off from the slider completely, replace it by looping a souvenir keychain through the slider, creating a makeshift zipper pull. (An eye-catching keychain will also help you identify your bag on the luggage carousel.)
Find Free Wi-Fi
Paying for Wi-Fi access is a traveler’s pet peeve, especially when stuck in an airport on an infinite layover. Never be left analog again: Our favorite tip is to download a program such as NetStumbler, which goes above and beyond your computer’s built-in Wi-Fi detector by locating “hidden” Wi-Fi networks your PC might have missed. If you’re on a Bluetooth-enabled Mac, iStumbler will provide the same service. Smartphone users can get apps like JiWire’s Free Wi-Fi Finder, whose directory tracks the exact location of nearly 150,000 free networks worldwide. If all else fails, find the inevitable Starbucks. Many locations offer free Wi-Fi (and you can usually perch right outside the entrance and secure a connection).
Ask for a Free Phone Charger
Just landed, only to realize you forgot to pack your phone charger? Don’t run out to replace it just yet. We’ve recently discovered that the number-one most-common item left behind in hotels is the phone charger. So before you buy another, check with the hotel’s front desk for a spare. Or approach the charging station located conveniently at nearly every airport lobby.
Avoid Commission Fees … with Coffee
Starbucks addicts, rejoice! SmarterTravel Editor Caroline Costello shares a clever way to avoid having to pay a commission fee to convert that last bit of foreign cash to US dollars at the end of a vacation. First, pick up a free reloadable Starbucks Card before your international trip. Then, Costello says, “If you have leftover money in the local currency when you’re on your way home, use it to reload your card at the Starbucks location in your international airport.” The money you’ll save on commission fees might just cover that triple-shot-no-foam-cinnamon-soy-mocha-frappuccino with extra sprinkles.
And if you’re concerned about safety but don’t own pepper spray (or are in a destination where pepper spray is illegal), we have two words: Aqua Net. Anyone who has ever accidentally sprayed an aerosol hairspray in a confined space knows that it’s just as painfully effective as pepper spray. Carry a small bottle in your purse if you’re traveling alone or are in a questionable area; if the bottle is less than 3.4 ounces, you can even pack it in a carry-on bag.
*content from “Surprising Travel Tricks That Work”Safe Travels!
Consulting New Associate Class, June 2015
Heather, Jake, Paul, Cristin, Zachary, Kristina, Kathryn, Maeve, Anthony, Jon, Blake, Hayden, Kayla and Brianna